If the weather permits, scientists from NASA want to launch their flying saucer again so that they can try their upgraded devices for Mars landings. It seems the pacific waters have their own plan. They are not in the mood to accommodate NASA today. Maybe tomorrow, but if then the weather won’t permit, the window will have to be closed until two weeks from now or July the latest.
Officially known as the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, or LDSD, the flying-saucer like object is a rocket-propelled platform that uses a doughnut shaped inflatable device known as the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator. There’s also a parachute capable of withstanding supersonic wind speeds.
Last June, the LDSD did a field test in Kauai, Hawaii at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range. To simulate Martian conditions, a helium balloon carried the craft to 120,000 feet. Another rocket then propelled it another 60,000 feet. The 20-foot decelerator worked as intended, but the 110-foot parachute was shredded as soon as it was opened.
Despite landing harder than planned in the Pacific Ocean, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory team obtained a significant amount of data, declaring the test to be successful. The scientists redesigned the parachute, stating that “It’s a much stronger, much more robust parachute.”
Tuesday might have been an ideal day for the test flight, but NASA deemed that “the wave height is not conducive for safe recovery operations.” Because of this, the test has been postponed and will take place no earlier than Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. Hawaii time. The launch windows for this month is about two weeks. Any later, then the test will be postponed to July, according to Mark Adler, LDSD project manager.